Return to: Index of 1996 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/12/18 Statement at "Hammer Awards" Ceremony
Office of the Spokesman



                        U.S. Department of State
                         Office of the Spokesman


_________________________________________________________________
AS DELIVERED                                    December 18, 1996


                            STATEMENT BY
             SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                 AT THE "HAMMER AWARDS" CEREMONY


First, to Bob Stone, my deep appreciation for those stirring and 
eloquent remarks.  And to all of you, welcome to the Franklin Room.  As 
you know, Benjamin Franklin was one of our first diplomats, and one of 
our most brilliant inventors-maybe I should say "reinventors" for these 
purposes.  This is certainly an appropriate room in which to honor the 
outstanding efforts for that reason of the State Department's employees 
in reinventing our government.

Over the past few years, especially in the last year, I've had the 
pleasure of presenting quite a few awards.  Indeed, I didn't know how 
much fun it would be, but in the last year or so I've made it a practice 
wherever I could, when I was traveling abroad, to go to embassies and 
present awards that they had been fully justified in earning.  This 
morning I presented an award, and I know that some of you will probably 
hear or heard about it, to Ambassador Tom Pickering, our most senior 
diplomat, a Distinguished Service Award.  But we can always do more, in 
my judgment, to recognize the creativity and commitment of our staff, so 
I thought this afternoon I'd hand out just a few more awards-indeed 
about 900 of them-for the outstanding effort in 43 different instances.

The Hammer Awards are Vice President Gore's special recognition for 
teams of federal workers who made important contributions to reinventing 
a piece of the United States Government.  The goals of that program, 
which I'm sure you all know well, are:  Putting Customers First, Cutting 
Red Tape, Empowering Employees, and Getting Back To Basics.  The State 
Department, as you will see from these awards, can be proud of progress 
on all of these fronts.

Four of today's seven Hammer Awards are honoring service to the public, 
and making it faster and better.  Our Embassy in Seoul, the visa unit, 
dramatically cut the response time for issuing visas in Korea.  The 
Freedom of Information Act team did the same for information requests 
here in Washington.  The National Passport Center streamlined passport 
issuances for Americans, and the Consular Affairs bureau has given 
people all over the world instant Internet access to travel advisories.  
We are also recognizing today three teams for improving the way we do 
our jobs right here at Main State.  The Diplomatic Courier Service 
redesigned the pouch processing system.  The National Foreign Service 
Reengineering Team is ensuring better and more streamlined management of 
FSN personnel issues.  And the creators of a new interagency cost-
sharing system, which not only had the Department, but Congress and the 
other executive agencies, watching them and I must say watching them 
very closely as they worked.  All of those deserve our warmest thanks.

Now, each one of those awards is in a specific sector.  No one of them 
may seem very earth-shaking to you, but taken together and taken 
together with all the other hundreds of efforts of a comparable kind, 
has, as Bob Stone has said, gone a long, long ways to reinventing our 
government.  But we're not there yet, and as Bob says, we have fully 
enough work for the next four years. 

Let me add that just this week our Boston Passport Office was also 
approved for a Hammer Award.  That award will be presented later, but I 
wanted to note it here today, and I'm sure it will not be our last.  Let 
me say that as the Secretary I take a good deal of satisfaction and 
gratification in knowing that we now have eight awards here in the State 
Department.

The diversity of these awards show just how widely the goal of 
reinventing has caught on here in the Department and throughout the 
government.  Restructuring has made the Department stronger and leaner 
across the board.  Over the last four years, I've often spoken with 
considerable pride about our reinvention efforts, in meetings and 
hearings on Capitol Hill, as well as to business groups around the 
world.  I've often heard compliments back from the groups that I was 
speaking to, recognizing that we've done something different and better.  
Often, I've been able to speak about these things in connection with 
seeking additional resources for the Department.  I must say when I'm 
doing that, in this era of diminishing resources, there's nothing more 
effective for me than to be able to point to ways we've reinvented our 
processes here at the State Department, made it possible to do our work 
more efficiently, and that strengthens our diplomacy overall and makes 
it more efficient and effective, and helps a lot in trying to persuade 
reluctant people to give us a reasonably adequate amount of money.  I've 
spent about as much time on Capitol Hill as I have working with any 
other nation, or perhaps any other continent, over the last four years.  
I can't say that I'm fully satisfied with the result, but I think there 
is a new awakening, there is a sense of awareness on Capitol Hill and 
all through this city that we've been shortchanging resources for 
diplomatic readiness, that unless we do better we're going to wake up 
and find ourselves with our first line of defense-that is, our 
diplomats-not being able to man the first line of defense.  And then 
we'll be thrown back to depending on our armed services.  The theme that 
I've been striking, and it's beginning to get what they call 
"resonance," is that the only way we can sustain our global leadership, 
the only way we can protect our vital interests, is to have an adequate 
amount of resources.  And we can't do it-we can't be expected to do it-
when our resources have been constantly diminished.  That's the theme of 
the budget presentation this year.  I want to compliment our team that's 
been working on that.  I'm very enthusiastic.  I'm feeling positive 
about how we're doing in that.  There's still a meeting with the 
President ahead.  But we're making more headway this year, I think, than 
we've made in the past, because we've been able to build on the record 
that you've made here.  And I have full confidence in saying to the 
Congress that maybe we aren't doing everything we can do, but we're 
doing a lot more than we did in the past to be more efficient through 
these reinventing efforts.

I'm very gratified that you've helped us do more with less at a very 
difficult time.  I find that you're all a real credit to the 
institution, and these seven Hammer Awards that we're going to present 
today and 36 certificates of appreciation are clear evidence that we're 
using our resources here as well as we can.  We're very well off indeed, 
with people like you managing these projects and reinventing our 
Department.  Keep up the good work, and I'm enormously pleased to have 
an opportunity to participate in this awards ceremony.  Thank you very 
much.

(###)
To the top of this page